What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? review – existential meet-cute is a magical mystery | Movies

Yes, what? A presence or an absence? Alexandre Koberidze’s exasperating yet meanderingly likable existential fantasy-romance reflects on this kind of quibbling question (although not explicitly on this exact one) as it muses on love, fate, identity and the mystery of ordinary things. It’s like a short film, but one lasting 151 minutes, with something of Jacques Rivette’s Céline and Julie going on their boat trip and Eric Rohmer’s two would-be lovers losing contact with each other in A Tale of Winter.

Lisa and Giorgi are a medical student and footballer in the Georgian city of Kutaisi who have a chance meeting outside a school (the movie shoots only their feet, taking meet-cute to the next level) and agree to rendezvous at a cafe the next day. . But a strange curse or hex changes their appearance overnight (an event greeted by both with mild bemusement) and now they realize they won’t recognize each other. The voiceover narrator cheekily asks the audience to close their eyes at the moment of transformation itself to preserve the magic.

Lisa is played, before and after, by Oliko Barbakadze and Ani Karseladze, and Giorgi by Giorgi Ambroladze and Giorgi Bochorishvili. And … well, that’s almost it as far as conventional plot goes. Lisa gets a job at the very cafe where she was hoping to meet Giorgi, waitressing and helping to set up the digital projector to show live World Cup matches. Giorgi himself hangs around, lending his ball to a group of cheeky kids who want to play football. He also helps to supervise a little stall that belongs to the cafe owner: offering a prize to anyone who can hang on the horizontal bar for two minutes. Giorgi himself is a fan of the Argentinian football team, but the voiceover tells us there’s a dog hanging about who supports England; it’s named “Vardy” (after Jamie presumably, or maybe Rebekah).

Then some film-makers meta-ishly show up at the cafe, making a documentary about the couples and, needing one more, ask Giorgi and Lisa to take part; bemused, they agree, though protesting that they are not a couple. And so the action mysteriously begins to circle back to its quirky origin-point, perhaps gesturing at the way that fiction and narrative creates identity, destiny and meaning. This is a film that tries your patience a fair bit, and yet there is something attractive in its kind of innocence.

What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? is released on November 25 in cinemas.

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